I jerked awake. It wasn’t the bumpy 15hr flight. I was on terra firma now. It was the sharp disembodied female voice from the PA system that floated through terminal, “All passengers on Air Canada flight 203 to London and Dhaka are requested to have their boarding passes ready…..” Soon as the PA system switched off, the massive terminal fell silent once more. Rather, the background hubbub of the airport environment came back on.
Christ, what the hell was that all about? I hadn’t understood a word of what the announcement had just said. And how could I, at 6 months? Even the old lady sittin’ next doesn’t holler at me that way! Yes, she does seem a bit stern at times. That’s when she addresses me in first person plural and herself in third person singular. ‘We’ mustn’t fuss with the sandesh (Bengali sweetmeat), darling. Now eat up, ‘mummy’ is busy. ‘She’ has things to do.
But overall, the lady smiles a lot and is kinda nice, plump and cuddly. I do have it in for plump and cuddly women, y’know. And oooh, does she smell good. And she doesn’t do baby talk, bless the almighty. By the by, Tina’s mother does baby talk all the bloody time. ‘Abudi gabudi’, ‘nanu dhon’, ‘thweethi poo’, ‘dahleeeeng’, ‘boobuni’, ‘mimi shona’, ‘budi thuththudi’ and similar cringe producers. I tell ya, Tina’d walk out if she could. But an uprising on that scale is still several months away for her. Tina is only 5. Months.
I heaved a dismissive sigh, rubbed my eyes and looked around for my personal deli bar (my mother, Meera). “Jesus, I’m thoistee,” I gurgled to myself. Having confirmed that she was still around by my side, I gave out a high frequency signal well within the audible range and groped for momma’s twin snack outlets. But she gently slipped one of those horrid plastic teats through my toothless gums. What the..!$%!!!. All right, all right. Poor girl…musta run out. Heck, coulda bin woise. What can ya say…’Nother day, ‘nother teat. They should call them yuck producers, not pacifiers. I drifted off once again.
And now about the guy. I don’t like the way he looks at my mother. And the things he’s up to at night with her in bed, with me right next in the crib. I want ta scream, “Go get a life, will ya!” but he thinks I’m gurgling and turns around, reaches in and gives me a rough squeeze. It hurts. Jesus, is this guy for real or what? His hand is as big as my bloomin’ head. And his voice. Mèrde! It’s a boom and he insists on boomin’ right next ta my ears. He booms on and I can’t understand one goddamn word. And yew! His breath! Can’t figure out why mumma likes it when he places his lips on hers.
But the guy is really not all that bad. The way he wrinkles his nose in mock exasperation when he’s changin’ my nappies and when he sits me on his lap and combs those tiny wisps of hair after he has given me a bath. I can tell he loves spendin’ time with me by the way he carries me around the whole day, some days. But what really gets him all excited is when I say,”Ba..ba”. Chucks me up in the air, he does. Hey..Whoa…wha..take it easy, man, just had my afternoon snack. Boy, do ya need a restrainin’ awdah! And Oh yeah, just remembered sumpn which breaks me up, even after so many months. I was just out and the guy was holdin’ me in his arms. I was hungwy and my gaze fell on his teats. I said ta m’self,”Aha! Snacktime!” went at ‘em, but nuthn happened. And he laughed at that.
I was woken up once again by that familiar boom. It was that guy, a.k.a Baba. Mother squealed. She sprang up and jumped into his arms. Lips pressed together once more. Began ta look like it’d take all day. He disengaged and fixed his eyes on me. He swung me up in the air. Felt much like the Boeing777 we’d been in, flyin’ over the Pyrenees. But felt real good, I can tell ya. As mummy pushed the cart forward to the exit, the guy kept boomin’ into my ears while I rode his muscular arms.
Better get some sleep when I get home. We’ve been away one whole month. What do ya think the guy’ll be up to tanight? Playin’ with his rosary beads? It’s gonna be a long night, you can bet yore sweet ass on it.